Study: CT a powerful tool in diagnosing coronary artery disease

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Coronary computed tomography is a highly effective tool in diagnosing coronary artery disease and could be helpful in preventing a patient from undergoing invasive catheterization, according to a Cleveland Clinic-led study published yesterday in the Journal of the American Medical Association.
           
“Our results indicated that a negative finding on computed tomography angiography (CTA) virtually eliminated the possibility of having significant coronary artery disease,” said Mario J. Garcia, MD, the study’s lead author and director of Cardiac Imaging at Cleveland Clinic. “This means that if no significant narrowing was seen by CTA, the results confirm those of conventional coronary angiography, potentially eliminating the need for this invasive procedure.”
           
The study authors do note that the results also indicated that a coronary CTA performed with a 16-detector scanner often leads to inconclusive or “false positive” results. Therefore, this test should only be performed when deemed medically necessary.

 The “Coronary Assessment by Computed Tomographic Scanning & Catheter Angiography (CATSCAN): A Multi-Center Trial” took place from June 2004 through March 2005 with 238 patients undergoing coronary angiography for evaluation of suspected coronary artery disease. Eleven centers in the United States, Europe, Israel, Japan and Argentina participated.

The CATSCAN study was conducted to evaluate the accuracy of coronary CTA done with 16-row multidetector scanners, although previous studies at select single centers (located primarily in Europe) had shown the test was accurate. For the study, all exams were completed on Philips Brilliance 16 cardiovascular CT systems.

A typical CTA done with a 16-detector scanner requires patients to hold their breath for 25 to 40 seconds while images are taken. Current 64-detector scanners require patients to hold their breath for only 6 to 10 seconds.